MORRISON, CO – July 18, 2017 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – The first time Jack Beckman went to the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway, he was a wide-eyed teenager and fan who simply wanted to take as many pictures and get as many autographs as he could.
More than 30 years later, it’s come full circle for Beckman. The former Funny Car world champion is a three-time winner at the scenic facility and the event remains one of Beckman’s favorite races on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series tour. Returning for this weekend’s 38th annual Mopar Mile-High Nationals in his 10,000-horsepower Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T, Beckman talked about why he’s always loved Bandimere Speedway, despite its unique challenges.
“It’s a bucket list race for the fans and I tell everybody that you have to go at least once,” Beckman said. “Everything about it is hyper-unique. It’s a family-owned track, it has great history and history for me, personally. It’s literally carved into the side of a mountain and it’s just completely unique.”
Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1 and FOX, including live final eliminations on FOX at 3 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, July 23. It is the 14th of 24 events during the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season and also the first of three races on the famed NHRA Western Swing.
Beckman’s last win in Denver came in 2015 and he heads out west feeling good about the way his new-look team has come on as of late. He picked up his first win of the season four races ago in Englishtown, adding another victory in Norwalk and final round berth in Bristol as well. It’s pushed him to third in points behind Don Schumacher Racing teammates Ron Capps and Matt Hagan, but more importantly it gave the team a huge boost of confidence in the ultra-talented Funny Car class.
“I think we officially threw our hat into the ring with our performance (over the last four races),” Beckman said. “Up to that point, we had struggled. We had made progress, but we hadn’t gotten to the point we needed. That first win was so crucial to let the guys know we had the right stuff. They know we’re contenders and they know we can (win) now. The two races we’ve won this year, we still didn’t have the best car on Sunday. We’re not where we ultimately want to be with our consistency, but I think it underscores perseverance and attitude. We’ve got a winner’s mentality.”
But to add to the trophy collection this year and ultimately become a viable championship contender, Beckman knows that consistency must improve. Having previous success in the difficult conditions at Bandimere Speedway help, but Beckman knows that making the most of the next five races before the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship is important. With that in mind and seeing the potential in his team, Beckman is aiming high during the Western Swing and beyond.
“Between now and Indy, I would love to make 40 runs between Denver and that first qualifying pass in Indy,” said Beckman, who has 26 career wins. “That’s the goal. Quality and quantity of runs is important. You get more data and it also means you’re going deeper on Sundays. Now that this team has have two trophies in their collection, they just can’t wait to try to get the next one.”
Schumacher will try for a fourth Top Fuel win at Bandimere Speedway, while also trying to track down points leader Steve Torrence, who has five wins in 2017.
Johnson remained “King of the Mountain” in Pro Stock, winning for the seventh time at Bandimere. His mastery of the track has included 10 straight final rounds on the mountain.
Hines will try for a fifth Pro Stock Motorcycle win in Denver to reach the most in class history, but he’ll have to get past points leader LE Tonglet, who already has four victories in 2017.
The event also features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. After Nitro qualifying, fans can watch the spectacular Muy Caliente Racing jet dragsters sponsored by Lucas Oil, driven by the General Manager of Bandimere Speedway, “Sporty” Bandimere! Jet cars are thrust driven propelled by jet engines with exciting pre-run flame shows. As always, fans can interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
On the evening of Thursday, July 20, the official “starter” event of the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals will commence with the free admission Mopar Mile-High Block Party in downtown Golden, Colorado, from 6 – 10 p.m. MT. Mopar is partnering with Pennzoil to put on the 16th edition of the extravaganza featuring an autograph session with all top Mopar NHRA stars.
Live music, food and drink tents, merchandise, interactive displays including the new Dodge Challenger SRT Demon simulators and a car show featuring plenty of Mopar muscle are also on tap at the fan event. Popular Denver-area morning radio show host Willie B. from KBPI 106.7 FM will serve as the event emcee. For complete information on the Mopar Mile-High Block Party, visit www.milehighblockparty.com.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 5 and 7:30 p.m. on Friday, July 21, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, July 22, at 4 and 6:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 23.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 800-664-UWIN (8946) or 303-697-6001. Tickets also are available online at www.bandimere.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
About National Hot Rod Association
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 24 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street program for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates five racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Gainesville Raceway in Florida; National Trail Raceway in Ohio; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Source: National Hot Rod Association